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Blasphemy and its misuse

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Is Blasphemy punishable by Death in Islam? Is the self-styled lynching not un-Quanic and un-Prophetic? Is Islam the monopoly of a few self-imposed demagogues only? Are the country’s laws are based on Sharia law and apparatus? Have the misuse of religion not morphed into metastasizing religious extremism and their violent followers? Is it not abused to persecute minorities and settle personal vendetta in the guise of religion?

The misuse of the blasphemy law caused Pakistan tremendous losses both in blood and treasure. The cold-blooded, inhumane, macabre death cycle from Salman Taseer to Mashal Khan speaks volumes of extreme religiosity and social perversity. In the case of the former, the killer was identified and was hanged, but the case of the later is more complicated as the killers attacked him in hordes belonging to different political and religious parties.

A brief overview of the Prophetic era gives meaningful insights into this historical conundrum. Did  the Prophet not forgive even his archenemies, such as Hind, Abu Sufyan,the poet Suhail bin Amr,  Ikrama ,Safwan bin Umaya,the garbage thrower-lady, to name just a few?Startingly,bleeding from head to toe, did the prophet not  pray for the salvation of the inhabitants of Taif? If blasphemy was punishable by death in Islam, then he would have been the first one to order the killing of his enemies.Instead, he extended forgiveness towards non-Muslims, even his deadly enemies.

In fact, religious offences are excruciatingly obnoxious sins, but no one, other than the state in this world and God in the hereafter, can punish the other for their acts of commission or omission. Argumentatively, debating these man-made laws do not amount to committing sins.

Historically,the religious offences were first codified by India’s British rulers, especially by the much-derided T.B.Macaulay,in 1860. The maximum punishment contained milder provisions.However, Ziaul Haq regime inserted a separate clause based on death, or imprisonment for life”.Since then,it has been used as an important tool for religious,inter-and intra-sectarian ends.

Its time to deconstruct the highly distorted state history, revamp curricula at all levels, and curb militant outfits and hate literature.The state had better shun the mantra of good and bad militants.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved family.The state and society must stand by it.The state agencies,especially the police and intelligence bureaus must probe this heinous, heart-wrenching incidend clinically and impartially and the perpetrators be given exemplary punishments. All segments of society need to condemn it in the strongest of words.

 Saeed ullah Khan  Wazir, Islamabad

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